En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Tuesday - August 26, 2008

From: Grafton, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Strange growth on oak tree
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

i have a very strange round segmented growth on a tree in my yard. i think the tree is a chinkapin oak and the growth is a reddish color. it looks like a ball with suction cups on it. it is very strange looking thing and I have not been able to id it anywhere!

ANSWER:

It sounds as if your tree has a gall.  This is a growth that the tree makes in response to an insect or another organism such as a mite or a fungus.  Many galls are caused by an insect laying its eggs in the tree.  The insect hatches inside the gall growth, feeds on the growth and then emerges from the gall to continue its life cycle.  Here is more information about oak galls from the University of Kentucky and here is a Gallery of Common Galls from North Carolina State University.  Your growth sounds a bit like a horned oak gall.  If you don't find your growth in one of these links, please send us a photo and we will do our best to identify it.  Please visit the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants Plant Identification page to read instructions for submitting photos.

Note from Mr. SP:  After this answer was posted, someone else sent us a photograph that sounds very much like the gall described above.  We submitted the photo to BugGuide.net and asked if anyone could identify it.  Someone did identify it as being made by a gall wasp, Adleria quercusstrobilana, in the (Family Cynipidae), laying its eggs in the stem of the tree.

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Problems with giant coneflower in Richardson TX
June 05, 2010 - Dear Mr Smarty Plants- I have had a giant coneflower in my garden for 2 years now. This year it came up like it always had..got lots of leaves and then withered..turned brown and died. It got plent...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Eastern hemlock in Greenville SC
July 02, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a beautiful, young, 5 and a half foot tall Eastern Hemlock. I purchased and planted it two years ago in the fall. It has been doing very well all this spring. And ne...
view the full question and answer

Problem with unknown tree in Austin, Texas
July 23, 2013 - Have recently moved to Austin, Texas and have a tree in my backyard that has been dropping leaves and one major branch appears to be dead. That branch has hard rust colored sap circles (about penny si...
view the full question and answer

Western soapberry dropping leaves in San Antonio
June 03, 2013 - My Western Soapberry tree (China berry?) Suddenly started dropping full, perfectly healthy green, leaf units. Now half the tree is turning yellow. There is a second tree in the yard not far from this ...
view the full question and answer

Need help with a 50 ft Tulip Tree with storm damage in Brownsburg, IN.
June 30, 2010 - I have a 50 ft Tulip tree that suffered storm damage. One for the main branches split at the top fork and fell. It has left about 6 ft of exposed wood but there are still a couple of main branches in...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center